Sports is Life!
Sports were first played as a peaceful offshoot of the military. There are coaches (generals), assistant coaches and team captains (ranking officers). The participants wear designated uniforms and have team rituals and formations. Meetings are held so the leaders can develop tactical plans that include offensive and defensive maneuvers. Follow-up meetings are held to update the tactics and provide progress reports.
In sports and war, there is a scoreboard that displays the winners and losers. At one time, winning was only “important” in professional sports. Today, there are people who feel winning is an essential element of kids’ sports programs and even the simple games they play in the backyard with their friends. In extreme cases, parents have killed to see their kids win.
With an increased emphasis on winning and money, the dark side of sports has become more visible. College presidents at major universities cover up illegal activities by their coaches just so they can have a winning team; world-class bicyclists and home run kings lie about their use of performance enhancing drugs then justify their behavior because the culture of their sport has always allowed illicit behavior. And Olympic badminton teams throw round robin matches to receive more favorable seedings in tournament play.
It is often said that sports is a microcosm of life. At times, that is a scary thought.
Back in the day, sports competitions most often featured men. Today, they include machines. Does it get more entertaining than seeing a photofinish at a NASCAR event or wondering if Evil Knievel can jump the Snake River on a “motorcycle”?
As well, sports have included many very talented women athletes. And women need to be coached differently than men. There are many similarities, but there are many subtle, yet important differences. Women are built differently and their injury patterns are different than men. They think differently, they may learn differently, and at times coaches use different tactics for motivating women than men.
Over the years, sports have evolved from activities that focus on the spirit of competition to entertainment. The Super Bowl is no longer a football game, it is a two-week media event that had 108 million viewers in 2013 and 30-second ad slots that cost about $4 million dollars (The Washington Post).
Sports have become a necessary part of our lives as the American economies has evolved from an agrarian economy to the information age. Though most people are constantly “on the go”, most of us don’t have lifestyles that include manual labor or work in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, or construction. Instead we have sedentary desk jobs in the information economy then we go home and watch television or write posts for our blog or website. As a result there is a strong demand for recreation and sports programs.
Our grandparents would think we are crazy for going to the gym to workout or running to keep the muffin top from popping out. They wouldn’t understand why we drink something as awful tasting as energy drinks and power bars nor would they comprehend why we eat pasta rather than a juicy steak the night before a big competition.
As the need for physical activity has increased, American schools have eliminated or severely reduced physical education programs. Commercial recreation programs have become structured to meet the time constrants of the parents. The lack of exercise is exacerbated by kids going home after school and watching television or playing computer games rather than riding their bicycles or playing pickup basketball and baseball games. As a result, advocates are pushing for an increased emphasis on physical activity to combat diabetes, ADD, and childhood obesity.
The benefits from playing sports are many. Players develop discipline and self-confidence from meaningful practice. Research shows that active students perform better in the classroom. Properly coached youngsters will focus on things they can control and their performance in competition is more important than the outcome.
Athletes learn that life is not always fair which means they must learn to become gracious winners and losers. They learn determination, leadership, and teamwork. These are all values that carry over to the real world.
Sports is Life!